I hate Grants Accounting because they want me to spend my own money

Jun 24 2016 Published by under Uncategorized

I need updates to various software programs that we use in my lab. Graphics programs, statistics programs, editing programs. At my almost-MRU they have decided that programs unless they drive equipment that was purchased on a grant are General Use and therefore can't be charged to a grant. Word processing, spreadsheets, presentation software? Even if used by someone who is 100%  grant supported *might* be used by someone else (wtf? who is on the computer that is dedicated to the grant?) and can't be charged to the grant.

I was explicitly told "Use your other sources of funding". I hate the bean counters. Though, admittedly in past, I have enjoyed counting beans as a soothing pastime.

11 responses so far

  • drugmonkey says:

    What "other sources"?

  • What do they want you to spend the money on instead? Do they really care if you buy reagents vs. software?

    • To be clear, I'm not doubting you, just utterly puzzled by the policy.

      • potnia theron says:

        Its "grants accounting". Things paid for by the grant can only be used for the grant and not for anything. On one hand it can make sense, but it is just taken to extreme in this case.

    • potnia theron says:

      They have their rules. And yes, reagents are ok. Software, duct tape, solder, not so much.

    • David says:

      When I've seen this issue before, the delineation was whether the product was used only for one project or could be used on multiple projects. If the software is used for all/most projects in the lab, you can't use grant funding to purchase it (according to some organizations).

      Taken to the extreme, I've heard of places that had to put specific paper into the printer and they couldn't mix paper paid for by one contact with paper paid by another contract (granted, this story is likely apocryphal).

  • girlparts says:

    our university allows an estimation of the percentage used for the grant. As in, you could charge half the cost of the software to the grant if you will be using it half the time or more for that project. Same goes for duct tape.

  • Namnezia says:

    For us usually all it takes is a letter of justification explaining why the "general use" thing is essential and specific for the project. I've done this for lab notebooks, analysis computers, etc. They did get around some of the software issues by getting site licenses for most general use software, like MS Office, Illustrator, etc.

    • potnia theron says:

      At various universities, it becomes an issue of how much do you have to write, and what they accept. I've been able to buy computers (often the worst, ime) when its clear they will be dedicated to driving specific equipment. Where I am now, they almost never accept the letters, and argue back and forth till someone gives up.

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